Delta Cleary Scouting Report (2010)
Colorado Rockies outfield prospect Delta Cleary is one of the most frustrating prospects I have had the opportunity to scout extensively over the past couple of years. For every positive to point to in Cleary’s game, a red flag exists which leaves me wondering if things will ever click for him as a prospect. In 2009, I wrote the following about Cleary;
At 19, Cleary is in the early stages of his baseball career as the former three sport star is learning as he goes. A special athlete, he could take a huge step forward at some point and become one of the elite prospects in the organization. For now however, he’s little more than an intriguing package of tools working off of little more than raw athletic ability and in need of significant polish.
Another year has passed and Cleary’s stats actually regressed from his final 2009 line. Is this also the case from a scouting standpoint? Or did he make gains which can be pointed to as a sign of progress?
Physical Projection: Listed at 6’3″, 180 lbs., his weight was likely in the low-200’s as his bottom half has filled out quite a bit from the previous year. Still a well above average athlete, he falls short of plus to me due to a perceived lack of explosion and some minor concerns with body control. This may be due to his extremely long limbs getting in the way of his repeating his movements.
At times, Cleary looks the part of a prospect and will do something on the baseball field which will turn heads. But these are still only glimpses at a point when Cleary is no longer young for the level and has stagnated in his second time through the league.
Offense: Of hitters I had the opportunity to scout in 2010, Cleary may have had more unnecessary movement than any other prospect. And while that’s disappointing to see from a player with excellent bat whip through the zone, it does leave plenty to dream on should he decide to simplify his approach and focus on consistent contact.
In game action, Cleary’s swing from the right side creates a great deal of length which looks even more exaggerated due to his habit of drifting onto his front foot. Add to this his violently coming uncoiled from an upright and semi-athletic stance and what’s left is a number of wildly flailing parts which makes it almost impossible to repeat his swing mechanics.
From the left side, his swing plane is more sweeping as his bat head moves through the strike zone. Starting in an upright stance, Cleary’s stride causes him to change his eye level leaving him a relatively easy out. His hands also tend to drift forward mitigating his power potential which is apparent when he barrels a pitch. From either side of the plate, the ball jumps off of his bat when he makes solid contact leading me to believe there’s untapped power potential there.
Defense: It was a positive to see Cleary manning center field this season after remembering him in right field during 2009. His gazelle-like strides allow him to cover significant ground and his arm looked to be in the average range. In game action, his reaction to balls off the bat was so-so, but his routes were fine and he was able to make all the plays. Nothing was evident which would lead me to believe he will need to move off of the position at present.
Speed: In noticing how much Cleary’s bottom half had filled out, along with his significant drop in stolen base totals, I can’t help but think he has lost a step in the past year. Additionally, he’s not an explosive prospect to begin with so his first step isn’t a strength. 18/23 in stolen base attempts in just over 300 at bats is pretty impressive, but he registered 32 in 2009 in 80+ additional at bats. Watching Cleary move from first-to-third is a thing of beauty though as he appears to move the 180 feet in six or seven strides.
Delta Cleary is a great example of the adjustments which are made to the scouting report as a player ages. As a teenager at the level, he received a mulligan for his lack of polish and shortcomings in 2009, but another year and little progress has forced me to re-assess Cleary in a number of areas.
And while I still like Cleary as a prospect and would have him listed as an “inquire” if I were doing it for a living, it would be as little more than a speculative play based on his athleticism and strong wrists with the understanding his swing will need to be re-tooled. The way he’s currently progressing, he may not make it past AA, but somebody will always be willing to bet on his tools as a PTBNL in a trade package just in case things ever click.
19 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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